IBM (NYSE: IBM), the largest computer services provider, has bolstered its social networking tool for companies by integrating e-mail and adding a news feed with Twitter and Facebook.

The enhanced product, called Connections, enables streaming from social networks alongside business capabilities, such as document authorization, reporting expenses and reviewing e- mails, IBM said in a statement today. The Armonk, New York-based company is also adding more tools to the mobile version of the service, including location tracking, said Alistair Rennie, general manager of social business.

“You need to have a platform that is really social, powered by very deep analytics and ready to integrate business information into the stream in real time,” Rennie said in a telephone interview. “It’s an area we’re fairly serious about investing in.”

IBM is betting the enhanced service, which features analytical tools, will gain customers in the face of increasing competition from companies including Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which in July bought Yammer Inc., a Facebook- like corporate networking tool. Social network services will help IBM make $16 billion from business analytics by 2015, the company has said.

Connections will also integrate tools IBM gained through acquisitions, tying in capabilities from Kenexa Corp., a maker of Web-based human-resources and recruiting services, which it is buying for about $1.3 billion.

IBM’s service, which debuted in 2007, now counts Primerica Inc., the life insurer formerly owned by Citigroup Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Bayer AG among its users. Connections works for both internal communication and for interacting with customers, Rennie said.

IBM is opening offices in Manila and Sao Paolo to support customers in emerging markets using social network tools, the company also said today.

IBM employs some 10,000 people across North Carolina. 

[IBM ARCHIVE: Check out 10 years of IBM stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]